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Project: Coal Mine to Become Solar Farm in Eastern Kentucky

The Berkeley Energy Group (BEG), a leading Eastern Kentucky Coal Company, and EDF Renewable Energy (EDF RE) are working together to explore the first-ever, large-scale solar project in Appalachia. Site selection and engineering studies have begun in earnest, with focus on twin mountaintop removal sites just outside Pikeville, a news release said.

The engineering studies are vital to enhancing the viability of the 50-100 megawatt project and are expected to consume much of 2017.

The project would involve hundreds acres of reclaimed strip mines and generate employment for displaced coal miners in the construction phase of the development.

The project is the brainchild of longtime friends, Ryan Johns, BEG Project Development Executive, and Adam Edelen, of Edelen Strategic Ventures, and former Kentucky State Auditor.

“My family roots run deep in Eastern Kentucky and its coal mines. I’m excited about the potential of this innovative project to help diversify our economy and create jobs for our people,” said Johns. “This is a long term process with much work to be done before a construction date can be set, but I believe an experienced renewable project developer like EDF RE is the perfect partner in making our vision a reality. If it can be done, we’ll get it done.”

“Bringing together major players in both coal and renewable energy to build a solar farm on a mountaintop removal site, creating opportunity for out-of-work miners is a once in a lifetime project," Edelen said. "It's proof positive that Kentuckians can do big things, and find help from others in doing so.”

EDF RE, with over 30 years of experience in wind, solar, bioenergy and storage has successfully developed 9,000 megawatts of renewable energy.

“A project of this magnitude has never been proposed in Appalachia. Doing so will require every bit of innovation, experience and skill we’ve developed in the last 30 years,” said Doug Copeland, EDF RE Development Manager. “Everyone in our company, from our executive team to our site engineers, is committed to doing all we can to generate jobs and income to this region.”

Details of those efforts and progress updates will be provided as the project more fully develops through 2017, a news release said.